I can't explain how much the Avidly UK & CA team relies on our Projects team for our day-to-day work. If I could keep them full-time to keep my life on track, I would. But I can't. So the rest of the team and I have to make-do with having them during work hours. This time, Bilal has two of the three under the microscope in episode six of the Design Vs podcast.
Tom and Faizal step up to the plate to battle Bilal in this week's episode, with Tom coming in peace and representing his and Bilal's beloved Arsenal. Thankfully, it was a peaceful debate between the trio, which didn't get out of hand. Keen to discover their insights on project management's involvement in design in an agency environment? Hit the play button below to watch along.
So... what's project management? Enter the matrix
Okay, aside from Bilal trying to bait the guys, they offer an excellent explanation of how'd they'd describe project management. Faizal claims it's like the matrix — everybody is plugged into the Projects team. It involves what everybody does day-to-day to reduce the pressure of what needs to get done and build it into the project management system.
Obviously, it wouldn't be a design podcast if there wasn't a design element regarding project delivery. When discussing fixes, the guys flag resourcing and task management as two of the many aspects they prefer to set up for the team. This is because so much is interconnected in an agency like ours, whereas freelancers might not rely on as many people.
In an agency, it's completely different. This environment features too many dependencies, which is a lot to coordinate and lots to factor in. Thankfully, the Project guys take it all off our plates and set it up for us, so people like Bilal and other delivery teams can focus on creativity.
The 80/20 rule
Both Faizal and Tom bring a bucket full of experience to the Avidly UK & CA Projects team, but most of that didn't come from an agency background. Later in the episode, they explain their fresh approach to agency life over the past five years and compare it to projects they've worked on in the past.
Previous projects for them were much longer — some lasting up to one year. In comparison, the agency world is fast-paced, focusing on delivery output by the hour. Large parts of the work they do for the design department and the rest of the company is to allow us to focus on 80% of our creative skillset and 20% spent on managing tasks.
From their perspective, they want to spend 80% of their time managing, which allows for 80% of delivery teams to focus on creative tasks.
Genius vs insanity
Faizal then discusses the boundaries surrounding tasks and how we can work within those boundaries while still being as creative as possible. In his words, creative people are either geniuses or insane, so it's about reducing how much pressure is on our delivery teams.
In reality, it's about having some guardrails in place to allow for flexibility and creativity and not boxing somebody in where they can't be creative to follow processes and timings down to a tee.
Interested in finding out more? Listen to the episode on the go using the Spotify player below.
Data and expectations
Data is also hugely important in the business, and it's something the Projects team live and breathe.
Once people like Bilal have completed specific tasks, such as infographics, the guys constantly lean on these timings and processes to pick out the patterns and continue tweaking each time, so it's never 100% identical.
Client expectations are also a big talking point in agency life. It isn't easy managing happiness and subjectivity while balancing it with timeliness and quality. Later in the episode, Faizal and Tom run through how they set deadlines and expectations with our clients to offer peace of mind.
This 30-ish minute episode is jam-packed full of valuable insights. Here's what else to expect when tuning in.
- How they give projected deadlines with great detail
- Gated processes and how this keeps projects on track when subjectiveness creeps in
- Minimising rounds of amends
- Wanting agencies to push back on clients and offer expertise based on experience
- The importance of comms
- Analysing data in deliverable turnaround times
- Climbing mountains vs running marathons
- Tom using his project management skills for his methodical tea-making approach
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